Throughout his career, Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi has been one of the most innovative and creative voices in the African music scene. International audiences have also embraced his music—the language barrier has not been much of an issue, as his music has been more and more appreciated outside his native continent—he plays to mixed audiences, and he has noticed that there has been a growing presence of Caucasian fans during his U.S. tours. On a live setting, he shows incredible energy on stage by playing guitar, singing and engaging in a highly improvised dance. The music is contagious, and quickly gets into your skin—at The Town Hall last year, it only took a couple of numbers to get fans to get up from their seats and join Tuku’s fellow Zimbabweans in the back of the theater (to the desperation of the security officers, who would have been happier if everyone had stayed put). He has a charming stage manner, and is kind enough to explain—in English—the general meaning of his lyrics. Although Mtukudzi’s sound is essentially African, the listener can recognize several elements of jazz, reggae and other beats in his songs, which welcome Western instruments (electric guitar, keys) alongside African percussive elements. (Ernest Barteldes)
September 17 at Borders.